ESSENTIAL RECORDINGS
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN - Complete Piano Concertos

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LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN - Complete Piano Concertos - Dénes Várjon (Piano) - Concerto Budapest - András Keller (Conductor) - 3-Disc Set - 5991813275721 - Released: January 2016 - Hungaroton HCD32757/9

There is a reassuring constant that runs all the way through this new recording of the Complete Piano Concertos of Ludwig van Beethoven. By this I mean that pianist Dénes Várjon and conductor András Keller weave their way up the numbers in a naturally evolving manner and don't suddenly make Beethoven out to be a completely different composer when they reach No. 5, like so many other Beethoven interpreters tend to do. Sure, Beethoven had many more things going on in this Concerto than any of the previous ones, but it wasn't a radical departure or major leap forward, at least technically speaking, to what preceeded it. As a matter of fact, I personally believe his No. 4 to be slightly more advanced in terms of expressive details. An analogy to what I'm saying would be to compare Beethoven's Piano Concertos to a birthday cake, with No. 5 being the icing on the cake. Várjon and Keller's recipe calls for chocolate icing while other musicians slap on the fudge with a big spatula. They seem to approach it as if it was a Brahms work, while Várjon and Keller maintain Beethoven well within his own time capsule. Under their hands, from young to mature Beethoven, No. 1 is post Mozart and No. 5 is pre Brahms. Beethoven straight up! Well played and recorded, with particularly great support from the Concerto Budapest woodwind section members.

Below is a video clip of Dénes Várjon performing a Beethoven Sonata at a press conference promoting the release of this recording.

Jean-Yves Duperron - January 2016